Photo @envatoelements Twenty20 Photos

What are Clean Air Zones and how they could affect your fleet operations?

Clean Air Zones are being introduced to cities across the UK in order to meet governments Air Quality Standards. Both Bath and Birmingham have already implemented CAZs however more cities are expecting to do so by 2022, including Bristol whose zone is set to start in the summer.

Initial plans saw vehicles such as buses, taxis and HGVs affected, but with the introduction of four categories adding more vehicle types to the list, could your business operations be affected?

What is a Clean Air Zone?
CAZs are specific areas that have been selected for improving air quality and addressing the source of air pollution. Usually, areas within a larger city or a particular road are targeted as the focus of local authorities.  

Why are CAZs being introduced?
Working closely with local authorities, the zones are being introduced as part of the UK government’s wider plan for air quality improvement and to help reach overall zero emissions targets. 

The hope is that by introducing these areas, drivers will be discouraged from driving older, more polluting vehicles in areas of condensed pollution.

CAZs will also encourage businesses to take effective steps to contribute to improving air quality not only locally, but also at a national level.

The UK government is committed to building a stronger economy and a fairer society. A cleaner, healthier environment benefits people and the economy. Clean air is essential for making sure the United Kingdom (UK) is a healthy and prosperous country for people to live and work.” – UK plan for tackling roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations 2017

Will my drivers be charged for entering a Clean Air Zone?
The introduction of these zones often means charging drivers for entering the area unless their vehicle meets certain standards. However, it is not compulsory for authorities to charge drivers for entering CAZs and charges can only be set to cover costs of the scheme and not to generate revenue.

You can check if your drivers will be charged by entering vehicle details on the government’s Clean Air Vehicle Checker.

There are 4 different types of CAZ, local authorities decide which category fits their area depending on individual air pollution targets.


Vehicles that are automatically entitled to a national exemption, and don’t have to pay a charge include:

Where are these Clean Air Zones?
If you are interested to find out which areas may affect your fleet operations, RAC Foundation has created this handy map, pinpointing current Clean Air Zones, as well as schemes that are confirmed/under consideration. 

How can I future proof my business against CAZs?
In order to future proof your fleet, it is important to regularly review and optimise your operations. 

Investing in electric vehicles could offer long-term benefits, particularly as the UK will continue the move toward more Clean Air Zones. Although this is a great opportunity for businesses to consider more sustainable vehicles, there are many who may struggle to make this investment and such a decision shouldn’t be made lightly.

There are also various tools available that can help you plan your route, helping those older vehicles to avoid areas that may charge for entry. Check out Zap Maps route planner for a free solution.

If you’re looking for advice and support about transitioning your fleet to electric, speak to our team of experts and we will guide you through.